The Seven Wonders of China: Part 4/5

February 14, 2013

Mount Wudang is home to eight palaces, seventy-two temples in caves, thirty-nine bridges, thirty-six nunneries, twelve pavilions, and two temples.

During the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1643 AD), Mt. Wudang was known as a grand spectacle of all ages and is one of the best examples of ancient-religious architecture anywhere.

The Golden Hall, a temple built on Mt. Wudang in the 15th century is the largest copper building in China. The ninety-ton structure was plated in Gold in Beijing before being moved to the mountain.

6. Shibaozhai (Precious Stone Fortress)

Near the banks of China’s Yangtze River, a twelve story, five-hundred year-old Buddhist temple made of wood clings to a cliff without the support of a single nail. Before the temple was built, devout Buddhists climbed the cliff risking their lives to worship the Buddhist statutes on the mountain.  The temple was built to resist high winds and remedy this problem.

To protect and save the temple against rising water due to construction of China’s Three Gorges Dam, the Chinese government had a radical and ambitious solution.

Continued on February 15, 2013 in The Seven Wonders of China: Part 5 or return to Part 3

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The China-India Comparison with Lots of Facts – Part 3/5

January 2, 2012

WATER — From National Geographic we have Mumbai’s Shadow City by Mark Jacobson—a slum holding 12 million people, who live in the middle of India’s financial capital.

Then there is Delhi with 17.3 million residents. One third of the city’s residents have little access to clean water. See Life in the Slums of Delhi, India

Foreign Policy magazine says, “In India, service delivery [of fresh water] will fall woefully short of demand in coming years across most urban infrastructure sectors.”

China, on the other hand, has long-term infrastructure projects and is drilling the world’s longest tunnel to carry water from the Yangtze River under hundreds of miles of mountains to reach Manchuria in the northeast.

Then in Tibet, China is building reservoirs to catch water from glaciers that are melting due to global warming while building villages to relocate Tibetan nomads who discover that the high altitude grasslands they once depended on to feed their herds has dried up and turned to desert due to lack of rainfall.

LITERACY — For a republic or democracy to thrive and survive the population must be literate to understand the issues and support a complex modern society.

However, according to India’s 2011 census, only 74% of India’s 1.2 billion people are considered literate in India —that means three hundred and twelve million people cannot read.

In China, literacy is more than 94% up from 20% in 1978.

What is taking India so long? It has had since 1947 to resolve this problem. What China accomplished in about 30 years, India has had sixty-four years to achieve as the world’s largest democracy.

“Adult literacy [in China]was given first priority in literacy campaigns [after 1976] designed to ‘sweep away illiteracy’ [saochu wenmang]. Because 80% of adults were illiterate, they were targeted as crucial for securing new China’s economic security.”

It may sound like a cliché, but being able to read is a form of power, and leaders know that literate and educated people have considerable influence. Source: China Philanthropy

The World Illiteracy Map says, “Illiteracy is one of the major hindrances that come in the way of economic growth. Literate manpower helps a country in developing.”

Continued on January 3, 2012 in The China-India Comparison with Lots of Facts – Part 4 or return to Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Note: This revised and edited post first appeared on October 22, 2010 as India Falling Short


On Crime in China – (Viewed as Single Page)

August 2, 2011

This guest post and first-hand expose by Tom Carter first appeared on May 1, 2010 as On Crime in China – Part 1 (a five part series).

Perhaps the single most reassuring fact about travel in the People’s Republic of China is its remarkably low crime rate.

The Ministry of Public Security (MPS), the principal authority of domestic criminal procedures, regularly reports a year-on-year decline in violent crime, while common property infringement incidents such as theft, fraud and robbery, which account for no more than 80 percent of all cases, rise annual by as little as 1
percent.

Cosmopolitan cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, which annually attract tens of millions of overseas visitors on business or holiday, applaud themselves for providing public order and relatively safe-city streets where one can walk at just about any hour in relative safety.

But all is not necessarily quiet on the home front.

In an uncharacteristically candid public admission, the MPS once reported a pandemic of illicit drug trafficking in China led by an increasing number of foreign crime syndicates, reportedly from the African regimes of Nigeria and Liberia and triads from neighboring Asian countries.

Moreover, violent crime on the southern shore is notoriously rampant in Guangdong, making it the only province in China‘s mainland to arm police with guns.

Nor is this to say that Westerners are entirely exempt from either being the victim of, or committing, more serious crimes.

I found myself in several situations while traveling extensively throughout China. I fondly remember the street gang that confronted me in a darkened alley in Inner Mongolia, or facing off with a pickpocket in a crowded Qianmen hutong in Beijing with a baying crowd of onlookers taking great delight in watching a 196cm waiguoren vigilante.

Then there was that time in Chongqing. Not exactly heralded as a top tourist destination, the interior municipality of Chongqing, located on the rusty banks of the Yangtze River, uncannily resembles a lawless early-century port-of-call of maritime merchants, hardened dock laborers and waterfront brothels.

An overnight stay in a small hotel on the outskirts of China’s largest, and hottest, city, turned into a midnight brawl after a polite request on my part to ask three obviously drunk men loitering in the hallway to settle down, was met with a hostile response.

A push on their part led to a not gentle shove on mine, sending one of the men flying back into his two friends.

The next few moments were a feral blur, and for a short time, I laudably held my own. But six bare fists can infallibly do more damage than two can.

The tough guys retreated into the night, leaving me breathless and battered.

The police arrived thereafter and took me to the Public Security Bureau to get a statement.

It was determined that the hotel security guards failed to serve their purpose, and it was also found that the hotel did not follow strict municipal protocol in copying the three perpetrators’ identification cards before accommodating them, which would have assisted the police in their investigation.

This meant that it was my right under Chinese law to demand an immediate financial settlement from the hotel proprietor—for my troubles, you see—though it hardly made up for the bang-up job those inebriated gentlemen did on me.

To be sure, the aforementioned incident is an isolated one, with a great majority of expatriates being lucky, or not, to see so much action during their stay in China (“I was overcharged!” seems to be the leading complaint).

With only one police officer for every thousand residents in a population of 1.3 billion, and more than 40 percent of mainland precincts having fewer than five officers, compounded with a general lack of funding, resources or state-of-the-art technology, China’s police ought to be commended for maintaining an impressively low national crime rate.

Let there be no mistake: Xinhua News Agency has reported that total criminal prosecutions in China increased by more than 10 percent in 2009, and public security cases increased by about 20 percent.

However, compared to hyper-violent icons of the Wild West such as Los Angeles and New York, it is no wonder that China is witnessing an increasing number of foreigners residing in its gleaming municipalities.

China remains one of the statistically safest countries to visit, and the rest of the world would do well to take notice.

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Travel photographer Tom Carter is the author of CHINA: Portrait of a People, a 600-page book of photography from the 33 provinces of China, available on Amazon.com!

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Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty – Part 1/4

November 25, 2010

Zhu Yuanzhang, Emperor Yongle’s father, was born to a poor family that died of the plague and to survive he spent his youth as a Buddhist monk begging for food.

At the time, the Yuan (Mongol) Dynasty ruled China.

After becoming the leader of the rebels, Yuanzhang led the fight against the Yuan Dynasty for twelve years. When he defeated the Mongols, he took the name Emperor Hongwu (ruled 1368 – 1398)

Hongwu was frugal because of his difficult childhood, and he was known to be suspicious of others and exploded in anger at the smallest things. Punishments were harsh and sometimes ended in death.

Yuanzhang’s capital was Nanjing on the south side of the Yangtze River.

However, Emperor Hongwu promoted agriculture, and he reestablished the competitive Imperial examinations of the Confucian classics.


Mandarin with English subtitles

Defeating the Yuan Dynasty did not end the Mongol threat, and the nomadic warriors continued to raid China’s north to loot and pillage.

To deal with this threat, Emperor Hongwu divided the Imperial Ming army among his sons and ordered them to defend the northern frontier. Then the Great Wall was rebuilt, extended and strengthened.

Since Hongwu came from a background of poverty and despised the wealthy, he raised their taxes.

However, to avoid paying, many wealthy southern Chinese families fled China with their gold and silver.

In Chinese history, the Ming Dynasty under Emperor Hongwu was probably the most conservative and the least forgiving of those who were perceived to have done wrong.

Hongwu practiced a closed-door policy with the world. To avoid conflicts with Japanese pirates, he ordered the people who lived along China’s coast to move inland and he forbid any trade with foreign merchants.

Emperor Hangwu also exercised strict control over the thoughts of the common people to preserve heaven’s rule and exterminate human desire.

Discover China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Speed on Rails and the Three Gorges Dam Makes News

November 2, 2010

While the Globe’s number one debt-ridden super power talks about building bullet trains and coastal wind farms and doesn’t plan to replace outdated coal burning, polluting power plants, China builds them.

From Yahoo News and the Associated Press comes news of the bullet train from Shanghai to Hangzhou.


Bullet Train from Shanghai to Hangzhou – Mandarin News

However, the big news was the mighty Three Gorges Dam, which holds as much water as Lake Superior in the US. The dam is capable of producing 18 gigawatts of electricity equal to about 40 nuclear power plants.

China is the world’s largest producer of hydroelectricity, followed by Canada, Brazil and the United States. Since no fuel is needed to run a hydroelectric plant, there is little pollution.

Although there was controversy about moving the 1.4 million people who lived in the area behind the Three Gorges Dam, those still waters may save many lives during times of drought and flood.

One example of the controversy comes from a 2007 piece in Time Magazine, which mentions the project has been mired in controversy ever since it was first proposed by Dr. Sun Yat-Sen (1866 -1925), the founding father of China’s republic.

In fact, floods along the Yangtze killed more than 300,000 people during the 20th century but there was no mention of that in the Time piece.

Taking into account the loss of life from floods and the threat of droughts in China, why did the Western media spend so much effort publicizing the controversial resettlement project without mentioning the potential benefits to hundreds of millions of Chinese?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar. 


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